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Luther Martin

The reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) took a vow and joined the strict mendicant order of Augustinian hermits in 1505. Two years later he was ordained a priest and in 1512 he received the professorship for bible exegesis at the University of Wittenberg, which he held until his death. Luther denounced the then widespread trade in indulgences, the ransom of sins. On 31 October 1517 he wrote his famous 95 Theses against the penitential practice of the Church (that he knocked them on the church door is probably just a legend). In the end, he thereby (not intended by him) triggered the reformation and division of the church.

Martin Luther 1529 und Ablassbrief von 1513

From 1519, the relationship between him and the Catholic Church or Pope Leo X (1475-1521) escalated. On 10 December 1520 he burned the bull of banishment together with the Church Code and books of his opponents. According to a report of the papal legate Alexander, Luther strengthened himself with a Blue Trollinger(Schiava Grossa) before his departure from the Reichstag in Worms, where he refused to revoke his writings on April 18, 1521 with the famous saying "Here I stand, I cannot help it, God help me, Amen" and therefore the imperial oath was pronounced. In 1521 the pope imposed a life-threatening ban on Luther. He fled under the pseudonym "Junker Jörg" with the help of the Saxon elector Friedrich III. (1463-1525) and translated the New Testament of the Bible into a vernacular language in only ten months. The Old Testament also followed later.

Martin Luther is credited with many quotations in connection with wine and wine enjoyment. Some of them became known only after his death and therefore are not without doubt actually from him. Probably the best known saying, which was not published until 1775: "He who does not love wine, woman and song, remains a Thor all his life". Others are: "Weary and old people are more likely to drink wine in haste than those who are still strong, young, without worries and free spirits" and "Of all fruits, wine is the noblest in the whole world, which refreshes and delights the human heart". The song "Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott", which he created in 1529, is said to have been composed while enjoying a bottle of Niersteiner in Oppenheim.

The "Lutherstadt" Eisleben (Saxony-Anhalt) is his birth and death place. During his lifetime, the monasteries here were engaged in extensive viticulture with extensive vineyards. Today, only the remains of these vineyards are left. Luther appreciated the local wine. He valued wine more highly than beer: "Wine is blessed and has the testimony of scripture, whereas beer is human tradition". He had a great understanding for the moderate consumption of wine. On the occasion of the wedding of his niece in 1538, he remarked: "One should give the guests a good drink so that they may rejoice, for as Scripture says: Bread strengthens a man's heart, but wine makes him rejoice". But he had no understanding for the widespread drunkenness and warned in a speech at table: "Drink up, that misfortune may come to you. They don't want to grow old, because the best part of the human being passes away through drunkenness". His suggestion: "One should pool the money, each craft for itself, which one wants to drink up, and lend it to needy fellow craftsmen in need".

Luther often received gifts in the form of food and wine. His patron, Prince Elector Johann Friedrich I of Saxony (1503-1554) sent him a barrel with around 400 litres in 1536. A consignment from 1543 is also documented, whereby the prince apologises in an accompanying letter for the simple quality: "We would have liked to send you better ones, but this time he has not grown better for us". The Luther family also cultivated wine themselves, they owned their own vineyard with at least 600 vines. In 1544 Luther ordered 600 vine stakes by letter to support the vines. In a letter to his servant, he instructed him that the wine must be drawn off the lees into another barrel in time and that this must be repeated several times. Beer and wine were everyday drinks due to the often contaminated water sources, but Luther warns against drinking them too early: "Old people should be poured wine, young children should be given milk and eight years ago no wine should be drunk".

Luther vehemently advocated that the Lord's Supper should again be celebrated in its original form. Not only the priest, but also all the faithful must take bread and wine(measuring wine) at the Lord's Supper in accordance with Jesus' command. In Luther's time, it was generally accepted in both the Catholic Church and the Reformation Church that only wine was permissible. The only discussion was whether it should be mixed with water. Luther - like the other reformers Hus and Calvin - always categorically rejected this and insisted on the original form. Triggered by the lack of wine in northern countries, the question arose whether wine could be replaced by other drinks (grape juice, milk, water). This gave rise to the Liquorist dispute.

Luther had a very special relationship to the sacramental wine as the "blood of Christ". There are two incidents, guaranteed by witnesses, in which he prevented "the profanation of the holy blood of the Lord". In 1542, during a mass in Wittenberg, a woman bumped her mouth so hard against the measuring cup that some blood and wine was spilled on her coat, jacket and on a church pew. Luther licked the spilled blood from the woman's coat with all reverence. Afterwards the chair was planed down and the shavings were burned together with the woman's clothes. On his last journey to Eisleben in February 1546, a few days before his death, Luther had to interrupt his journey in Halle because the river Saale had overflowed its banks due to storms. He held a mass in the church. The large number of communicants had made him very tired and his trembling hand was the cause that some of the blessed wine dripped onto the floor. Luther fell on his knees and sucked up the wine with his mouth so as not to trample it underfoot and thus desecrate it.

Martin Luther: From Lucas Cranach the Elder, Gemeinfrei, Link
Letter of indulgence: Von Klugschnacker - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

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